New land tenure bill will fuel land invasions, says race relations body

2011-04-12 00:00

THE Land Tenure Security Bill is tantamount to rewarding land invasions, says the South African Race Relations Institute.

John Kane-Berman, the chief executive of the institute, said in a statement during the recent launch of the International Property Rights Index that the bill is the equivalent of land invasion.

Kane-Berman’s stated concerns echo those of the landowners and farm dwellers who are also dissatisfied with the way the bill, which is supposed to protect and strengthen the rights of farm dwellers, has been structured.

Landowners say it will make operating their farms more difficult, while the farm dwellers say it risks leaving them worse off rather than protecting them.

During his speech, in which he addressed wide-ranging issues such as property rights, Kane-Berman declared that South Africa has slipped down the index due to some laws. He also addressed issues relating to the land reform programme.

He said the bill would create a burden for the farmers who will be expected to provide service delivery for the farm dwellers.

He questioned whether the government should be incentivising land invasion as that was the effect the bill was having.

“It entitles the extended families of farm workers to graze livestock, plant crops and do commercial farming.

“This will entice people to move on to farms without permission, while six months of occupation will be give them ‘deemed’ consent to stay there,” he said.

He said it was also disconcerting that the bill makes provision for the delivery of certain services.

“The draft legislation also entitles farm residents to education, clean water, electricity and development.

“What is not clear is where the obligation to provide these things lies.”

Kane-Berman also raised concerns about the land reform process, saying it was primarily concerned about transformation rather than agricultural output.

“Land reform is not about farming. It is about transformation. Success will be measured not by the agricultural output of new farmers, but by the amount of land transferred from white ones.”

“We thus risk embarking on another form of social and racial engineering heedless of the key lesson from the past.”

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